What 3D Printing Materials do we use?

There are two types of material that we use at Tidewater 3D Printing:

  1. Filament
  2. Resin

Which material is right for your project will depend on a variety of factors including:

  • Size
  • Complexity
  • Material Requirements (weight, flexibility, finish etc)

Filament

3D printing filaments are the materials used in the additive manufacturing process to create three-dimensional objects layer by layer. These filaments serve as the raw material for both our Elegoo Neptune 3 and Ender 3 Max 3D printers, providing the necessary feedstock to produce physical objects with intricate designs and complex geometries. There are various types of 3D printing filaments available, each offering unique properties and applications. Let’s explore some of the most common filaments used in 3D printing today.

 

  1. PLA (Polylactic Acid): PLA is one of the most popular and widely used 3D printing filaments. It is a biodegradable thermoplastic derived from renewable resources such as corn starch or sugarcane. PLA is known for its ease of use, low printing temperature, and minimal warping, making it suitable for beginners and general-purpose printing. It has a relatively low strength compared to other filaments, but it is often used for prototyping, decorative objects, and educational purposes due to its wide range of vibrant colours and ease of post-processing.

  2. PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol): PETG is a versatile 3D printing filament that combines the best properties of PLA and ABS. It is known for its excellent strength, durability, and impact resistance, making it suitable for a wide range of applications. PETG is more flexible than PLA and ABS, which makes it less brittle and less prone to cracking. It has good layer adhesion, low shrinkage, and excellent chemical resistance. PETG is often used for functional parts, mechanical components, containers, and outdoor applications due to its weather resistance.

These are the filaments that we currently use, however there are a couple of others that we *may* be able to use, if the project warranted it. 

 

Each filament type has its own unique properties, advantages, and considerations, allowing users to choose the material that best suits their specific needs and desired outcomes. As 3D printing technology continues to advance, we can expect to see even more innovative filament materials and applications in the future.

Resin

3D printing resins, also known as photopolymers, are materials used in stereolithography (SLA) 3D printing technologies. Unlike filaments used in fused deposition modeling (FDM) printers, resins are liquid substances that solidify when exposed to specific wavelengths of light. This process allows for the creation of highly detailed and precise objects with smooth surface finishes. Let’s explore some key aspects of 3D printing resins.

 

At Tidewater 3D Printing, we tend to use Standard Resins. Standard resins are the most commonly used type. They offer a balance between strength, flexibility, and surface finish. They are suitable for a wide range of applications, including prototyping, figurines, and general-purpose objects.

 

We don’t currently use any other types of Resin. However, we could use the following two types of Resin, if a project required either of them.

 

  • Castable Resins: Castable resins are formulated to produce objects that can be used in investment casting processes. These resins burn out cleanly during the casting process, leaving behind a void that can be filled with molten metal or other materials.

  • Jewellery Resins: Jewellery resins are designed for creating intricate and detailed jewellery pieces. They offer a high level of detail, a smooth surface finish, and the ability to capture fine features.

Properties and Considerations: When working with 3D printing resins, it’s important to consider their specific properties and characteristics:

 

  • Viscosity: Resins have different viscosities, ranging from thin and watery to thick and syrup-like. Viscosity affects the flow and behavior of the resin during printing. Low-viscosity resins are suitable for fine details, while high-viscosity resins may be better for larger objects or those that require added strength.

  • Cure Time: Each resin has a specific curing time, which is the duration required for the resin to solidify completely when exposed to light. Faster curing resins allow for quicker print times, but they may require more powerful light sources.

  • Shrinkage: Resins can experience some degree of shrinkage during the curing process. This shrinkage should be taken into account when designing models, especially for precise or functional parts.

  • Post-Processing: After printing, resin objects typically require post-processing to remove excess resin and achieve the desired final appearance. This may involve rinsing the object in a solvent, curing it further with UV light, and sanding or polishing the surface.

As technology advances, new formulations and variations of 3D printing resins continue to emerge, offering enhanced properties and expanding the possibilities for various industries. When choosing a resin, it is important to consider the specific requirements of the intended application to ensure the best results in terms of strength, durability, and overall performance.

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